Meet Extreme Ultimate Warrior Wilhelm Langen, CEO of Germany’s Bell Computer-Netzwerke GmbH
Congratulations on being awarded Ultimate Warrior status and EMEA Partner of the Year 2020! How did it feel to receive these honors?
We are very proud and grateful to have achieved these awards again in 2020. We invest a lot in our partnership with Extreme Networks, but without an innovative team of highly motivated and experienced specialists this would not have been possible. This is a confirmation of our vision and ideas, as well as Bell’s partnership culture for employees, customers, and suppliers.
Bell is one of Extreme’s oldest partners. Do you remember the circumstances that led to the initial partnership? What are the opportunities today that keep the partnership so strong?
We have a long and exciting history in the network business. We started in 1997 with products from Cabletron Systems Digital Network-Product-Group (DNPG), which was acquired by Cabletron in the same year. From that day on, we have been part of the history of Cabletron, Enterasys, and Extreme.
Cabletron’s extensive product portfolio with Token-Ring, FFDI, ATM and Ethernet technologies, as well as the weakness of 3COM at that time and the pending acquisition of Yago, were certainly decisive points that persuaded us to enter the market with Cabletron as a partner. To date, we have not regretted this decision.
The innovative technologies, the extensive product portfolio, and the strong partnership are the basis for our success with Extreme Networks. Over the years, we have made many friends among Extreme employees. We work hard every day to provide our customers with the best possible solution for their requirements, and with Extreme Networks we have a strong partner at our side.
To achieve Ultimate Warrior status in 2020, our partners had to achieve a new portfolio target (e.g., sell something new). Which Extreme technologies did Bell focus on and what needs did this address with customers?
Our vision to support the entire Extreme portfolio has presented us with a new task here. Over the past few years, we have quickly adopted the new products from the acquisitions of Zebra, Brocade, and Avaya and immediately embraced new technologies. There was something new for us every year. In 2020, we intensively examined the cloud solutions resulting from the Aerohive acquisition and integrated the benefits in our customer projects. Since cloud services are not very popular with conservative companies in Germany, we had to do a lot of convincing. Nevertheless, we succeeded in integrating this technology into our solution portfolio and generated new customer projects, some of them very large. We are very proud of this and were pleased to be designated an Ultimate Warrior again in 2020.
What is it about Extreme solutions that resonates so strongly with your customers?
Over the last 10 years, we have worked with Extreme Networks to build Extreme Management Center into the brain of our network and security solutions. This innovative and unique orchestration tool is the basis of all of our projects. Besides reliability, automation, and orchestration, the efficient and easy deployment of our solutions are central to Bell’s key goals. Therefore, Extreme Management Center, ExtremeControl, and ExtremeAnalytics in combination with universal hardware and ExtremeCloud IQ are important building blocks in our innovative customer solutions. Combined with our individual extensions for rollout, operation, automation, and integration with security solutions, we can develop and deliver optimal solutions for our customer’s requirements.
After 22 years at Bell, please tell us about the greatest success you have been involved in during that time.
There are certainly qualitative and quantitative successes we have enjoyed during our long history with Extreme Networks. For quality and innovation, we received our first award from Cabletron in 2004 as a small company for a groundbreaking installation of secure networks.
A big and important milestone was certainly the equipping of the BAMF “Federal Office for Migration and Refugees” with intelligent network solutions from Bell and Extreme Networks. After the switchover from the former Cisco gear, the demands on the network infrastructure exploded overnight. Thanks to Extreme Management Center, ExtremeControl, and Bell automation tools, we were able to easily expand the infrastructure from 100 to 1,000 switches within four months.
Bell serves our joint customers across public and private sectors. What are some of the differences and similarities you encounter in these different sectors when helping customers achieve effortless networking experiences?
The similarities outweigh the differences. Both types of organizations place high demands on reliability, availability, security, standardization, and efficiency. Only the procurement and the specifications regarding the network media are somewhat different. Openness to cloud services is also limited in the case of public authorities due to the high security requirements. It is therefore also very important that Extreme Networks continues to develop and offer both local and cloud-based solutions.
How was 2020 for Bell and for you personally? What are you most hopeful for in 2021?
Shortly before the pandemic in 2020, Volker Kull and I took over the Bell company and the management completely. The cuts due to the pandemic presented us with major problems and new requirements. Almost everything that was taken for granted before had to be questioned. Nevertheless, we implemented the change from centralized to decentralized work at Bell very quickly and prioritized the safety of our employees. We were extremely busy supporting our customers’ transformation projects. Therefore, 2020 was also a very successful year for us. Not only in terms of operating results but also in the formation of a strong community of Bell employees and the intensive partnership ties with our customers.
In 2021, Bell will focus on expansion with the opening of another service location in the north of Germany. We hope that our employees, customers, and partners will continue to be healthy in the future.
Read other “Reports From the Field – Extreme Ultimate Warriors” here. The interviews feature Q&As with top sales personnel around the world about their experiences and best practices selling Extreme and what it means to be an Ultimate Warrior.